If you didn’t go to summer camp as a kid, now’s your chance.
Skate Farm Virginia is a 5-day skating adventure in the hills of Floyd, Virginia. Eddy Matzger, one of the greatest speed skaters of all time and one of the best inline coaches out there, opens his rustic old farmhouse to a group of skaters of all skill levels. You’ll work on fine-tuning your technique by getting the muscle memory down with dry land drills before hitting the open road in the afternoons on longer, super hilly skates.
My first time at Skate Farm was last year, when I’d only been skating a year. Over the course of only five days, I saw my technique improve on such a vast level that I knew I had to make it a priority to attend this year as well. Last week, I was able to successfully cement a lot of what I learned last year that was just above my level, and learn new, more difficult techniques I hadn’t even been able to think about before I attended.
Here’s my list of five reasons why every skater thinking about doing a race this year should get themselves down to Virginia for 5 days of skating, laughter, and motivation.
1) You’ll get training from an actual world champion. Eddy Matzger has won A2A the majority of years since he started skating it—almost three full decades of wins under his belt. He continues to be one of the top outdoor speed skaters of all time, regardless of his age. Eddy has his technique down to a science–where others have to work really hard, Eddy is able to enjoy his races, because he’s an efficient skater. And to top it off, he has a great attitude. He’s a wonderful person to train with and learn from.
Look at all these guys working hard while Eddy just flies on by with a smile.
2) You will fine-tune your technique. In the mornings, Eddy takes you through exercises and drills on dry land (without your skates on) in order to improve your technique. I got really used to leading each push with my hip, the feeling of falling into a crossover, and double-pushing, to name a few, in these sessions. Getting this muscle memory down without my skates on was crucial for when we did put them on, because I felt infinitely more comfortable executing these moves.
We were also taught how to use our friends as balances before we felt comfortable enough to maintain that balance on our own. I’ll definitely be applying these techniques with my friends at speed practice this year.
Before Skate Farm this year, for instance, I couldn’t even think about doing a double-push. By the end of our drills on day 5, I was able to get enough momentum from my double-pushes to climb a small hill. Leaning into each regular push with proper form became like second nature for me, even on the really long and difficult uphill climbs.
I always video Eddy demonstrating so that I can continue to work on and improve these techniques throughout the year.
3) The mountains of Virginia are one of the most beautiful places you’ll ever skate. In the afternoons, you go on longer, hillier skates. Your quads will be burning like no other as you climb hills that make those at Athens to Atlanta look like child’s play. There’s one skate that Eddy usually does to a winery, which is a nice reward, but you really have to work through nearly 90-degree inclines to get there. Henry Zuver drives the sag wagon and is waiting on the top of every painful hill with water and snacks, so there are plenty of breaks along each route.
You won’t just get to skate these mountains, you’ll get to hike them too! On the last day, Eddy usually takes the group on a hike up Buffalo Mountain, where you can see for miles and check out the hills you conquered the week before. It’s the perfect end to the week.
Floyd is also a fair distance away from major cities, so there’s no light pollution at night, which means a full set of stars. In the field across the street, you can see fireflies flying about, and in the evenings, instead of horns honking and traffic sounds, you hear crickets chirping and the slow trickle of the creek in the backyard. Depending on where you’re coming from, it’s a total disconnect from the hustle and bustle of your everyday life.
4) It’ll get you all fired up for training and racing season. It’s such a motivational booster to be immersed among people with the same passions as you. Many participants will be actively working towards racing season, and you can push each other as you work to accomplish mutual goals. This year, we had five strong and determined female skaters in our group. We’re planning on working together on drills, dry land, and technique throughout the year via video chat, since we all live in different places.
5) You’ll make friends that will last a lifetime. If I told you I didn’t sob hysterically as I drove away from the farm, I’d be lying. You get really close to your fellow skaters after 5 days of laughter, fun, and camaraderie. Last year, it was so much fun seeing the people I’d met at Skate Farm at many of the races throughout the fall—I even stayed with a few of them who lived close by to the events. We’re so lucky that this is a sport that takes us on adventures to so many new places, and I can’t wait to hang out with these new friends as our sport takes us across the country to races and social skate weekends throughout the rest of the year.
There are still two remaining sessions for Skate Farm Virginia in 2018, just in time to start your training regimen for racing season in 2018. Even if you’re not interested in competing or racing, Skate Farm will give you the tools towards becoming a more efficient and faster skater. I always refer to Skate Farm as “summer camp for adults,”—you’re in the middle of the woods, you spend your evenings laughing and bonding with new friends, and you come away wishing you could stay just one more week.
Read more about this amazing experience and register here.